Joseph and I took a trip to Japan this summer, funded in part by an AIA travel scholarship, to study multifamily and single family homes. We were hoping to learn some amazing secretes that would help us design smaller, more efficient spaces here in the US.
Although we didn’t discover any groundbreaking design concepts, we really loved the way contemporary Japanese homes and apartments deal with the toilet and bathing facilities. Here are the two main concepts Joseph and I will incorporate into the next home we design for ourselves. I wonder if any potential clients might consider these ideas as well?
#1 — keep the bathing and toilet rooms separate
This approach solves a couple of issues. First, it keeps the dirtiest plumbing fixture (toilet) far away from the cleanest plumbing fixture (tub). Second, it means that Joseph can use the toilet while I’m across the hall relaxing in the tub.
My favorite toilet room was designed by Motoki for his grandmother in Shinyurigaoka. It is tucked under the stairs in a modern, timber framed home. The light automatically turnes on when the door opens and the toilet lid pops up while a small LED light illuminates the bowl. The hand sink has an automatic faucet.
Toilet rooms can be basic or fancy. Here are some cool “designer” toilet rooms that we saw in House Maker model homes in Takaido. I just adore the mini hand sinks.
For really tight spaces, these cleaver toilets include a hand sink built right into the back of the toilet. When you flush, water is pumped up from the tank so you can rinse. Please note that the vanity sink is located in the bathing area, these mini sinks are for hand washing only.
And of course, I want a Toto washlet so I can keep my bum nice and clean! I think I’ll skip the kind that play music or a flushing sound however; but I do like the heated seat.
#2 — create a wet room for the shower and bath
The shower / tub room is self contained with a single drain in the floor. Tubs are used for soaking and relaxing while the shower is for washing. Because Japanese do not get into the tub dirty, nor do they use soap in the tub, they can reuse their water for a couple of days.
The coolest soaking tubs are insulated, with folding covers and heating units so that you can reuse your bath water from one day to the next.